A hard-hitting piece in the New Statesman makes clear that Both David Blunkett and Charles Clarke were unambiguously warned about the foreign national prisoner problem on numerous occasions
The prisons inspector, Anne Owers, warned ministers long ago about the deportation crisis and now fears an explosion in our jails, writes Mary Riddell in The New Statesman:
"..... After the revelation that prisoners had been released without being considered for deportation, it emerged that Owers had flagged up, in her annual report of 2004, the Home Office's 'institutional blind spot' over foreign nationals, as well as the 'dilatory attitude' of the immigration service.
In fact, she tells me she had first blown the whistle in 2003, two years before Clarke says he became 'fully aware' of the deportation problem. 'For the home secretary [then David Blunkett], as for the prison service, it wasn't a priority.' Owers also pointed out the lack of a proper system to identify and manage foreign inmates in countless individual reports, as well as in every yearly summary. So Clarke, like Blunkett before him, must have been fully aware of her concerns?
'Well, yes. If we wrote our prison reports by computer, which we do not, you could push any button and find a reference to the lack of a foreign nationals strategy. I could hardly have made more clear the absence of a strategy for managing foreign prisoners. I could also hardly have made it more clear, when I was looking at the immigration side, that there were enormous administrative failings......' "